When sycophancy reigns, CM Pinarayi Vijayan becomes ‘demi-god’ in communist politics of Kerala

Ministers and party leaders lead the sycophants who call Vijayan God or a divine manifestation in Kerala.

ByK A Shaji

Published Jan 02, 2024 | 2:04 PMUpdatedJan 02, 2024 | 2:04 PM

Pinarayi Vijayan video song

YouTube, on Tuesday, 2 January, witnessed ‘Pinarayi Vijayan video song’ winning both bouquets and brickbats from the people of Kerala. Created by known party sympathisers, the video song describes Vijayan as a roaring lion, a self-cultivated towering tree, and the king of Malayala Nadu (land).

It praises the ‘divine’ skills of Vijayan in fighting the repeated annual floods and the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.

While trolls and critics are targeting the YouTube video, the party and its organisations prefer to be silent.

But, this phenomenon is not new.

A flex board with a larger-than-life picture of CPI(M) politburo member and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appeared near a Vishnu temple at Valanchery in Malappuram about two years ago: “The God of Kerala,” the board screamed.

A screengrab from the newly launched Pinarayi Vijayan video. Photo: Supplied

A screengrab from the newly launched Pinarayi Vijayan video. Photo: Supplied

“You asked who God is. The people said the one who ensures food,” said the flexi board, triggering a larger discussion on a personality cult, not in sync with the ideals communists believe.

The managing committee of Pachiri Maha Vishnu Temple later confirmed that the board near the entrance arch along the main road coincided with the second anniversary of the LDF government.

When the devotees objected to the board close to the temple entrance, local CPI (M) workers shifted it away.

The board and the text surprised many, especially, the local senior workers of the CPI (M) and the CPI, as Vijayan was a fierce opponent of anthropolatry by Communist cadres during his long innings as the party’s state secretary.

But by the time the board came up, Vijayan has been termed Karanabhoothan, the Malayalam word for creator, by Poovarani KVP Namboothiri, a local poet with Sangh Parivar leanings.

Also Read: Stifling the media in Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan style

Invoking the new ‘God’

When the CPI(M) Thiruvananthapuram district committee wanted a song for a mega thiruvathira, a traditional dance performed by women, which was planned as part of the party district conference, Namboothiri was the first choice to pen the lyrics. He termed Vijayan Karanabhoothan.

The thiruvathira, in which over 500 women termed Vijayan as Karanabhoothan.

The thiruvathira performed in honour of Vijayan. (Supplied)

A hundred crore salutes were offered to him as the ‘CPI(M) party was shining across the world’ because of him. About 500 women dressed in traditional Kerala attire danced, praising the Karanabhoothan for all the virtues Kerala attained.

These two developments constituted a paradigm shift for the CPI(M) from its declared position against deifying individuals. Now, both leaders and cadres of the party are singing paeans to the chief minister, who lords over the lone Left government in the country by reinforcing the personality cult.

Two weeks ago ministers Saji Cheriyan and VN Vasavan used platforms of the much-hyped Nava Kerala Sadasu to describe Vijayan either as a god or a divine emissary who was deputed to single-handedly rescue the state from miseries and unprecedented calamities.

Also Read: Antony Raju and Devarkovil resign from Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet

The ‘benevolent’ one

According to critics, Vijayan enjoys the fast-growing cult worshipping of Kerala communists, and he instantly rewards those who are praising him.

Pinarayi Vijayan at the Nava Kerala Sadas in Kozhikode

Pinarayi Vijayan at the Nava Kerala Sadas in Kozhikode. (X)

For instance, he ignored the pleas of LDF constituent Kerala Congress (B) during the Cabinet reshuffle to take away the cinema portfolio from Cheriyan and hand it over to party supremo KB Ganesh Kumar, an actor-turned-politician, keen on bringing about radical changes in the state’s film sector.

On the other hand, Vasavan unexpectedly got additional charge of the influential port department, contrary to the popular perception that the portfolio would go to newly inducted Congress (S) leader Ramachandran Kadannappally.

School Education Minister V Sivankutty, who frequently accords divine status to Vijayan, is another in the most loyal segment.

Many who objected to the video song pounced on the CPI (M) for breaking its code against idolisation and recalled how the party had pulled down former Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan. The Facebook page, PJ Army, was forced to be changed to Red Army, and songs in his praise were taken down.

“This is the party that found fault with songs written in praise of Jayarajan. What was haram for Jayarajan should not become halal for Vijayan,” said MN Karassery, a writer and social critic.

Also Read: ‘DYFI workers saving lives of Youth Congress activists,’ says CM Pinarayi Vijayan

The ‘protector’

At a recent press conference in Kannur, CPI(M) state secretary MV Govindan scoffed at the media query seeking his response to Vasavan’s statement terming Vijayan as a `gift and blessing of God to Kerala.’

“It was Pinarayi who protected Kerala during floods and Covid. People in Kerala will line up under the protection of Pinarayi. Who dares to touch Pinarayi Vijayan, who is a blessing for Kerala from God?” Vasavan said at a meeting held in Kozhikode.

Later, when the statement triggered a flood of trolls, he clarified that he was only quoting the late Philipose Mar Chrysostom, the Metropolitan of the Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church. “It was Philipose Mar Chrysostom who said Pinarayi Vijayan was God’s blessing to Kerala,” Vasavan explained.

But old-timers in the CPI (M) recall an occasion 15 years ago. Vijayan told an audience of over 30,000 people on the Sanghumugham beach in Thiruvananthapuram that there wouldn’t be waves in a bucket of water taken from the sea.

“Waves are created only when the water is in the sea, when water and the sea are one,” he said as an indirect message to his main rival within the party and then chief minister VS Achuthanandan, who was sharing the dais.

During his first term as the chief minister, Vijayan warned the party on many occasions against attempts by leaders to grow their clout using social media. At that time, he said the party wouldn’t tolerate attempts by leaders to create fan bases of their own.

Also Read: Why is Kerala discussing a steel chair after a New York address by Pinarayi Vijayan?

Sycophancy to the fore

However, party politburo member MA Baby and district secretary Anavoor Nagappan were present when women performed the Karanabhoothan thiruvathira even as the party cadre was attending the funeral of slain SFI leader Dheeraj Rajendran, in Kannur. Nobody objected to the song until it courted controversy after being telecast through local channels.

Many party leaders covertly acknowledge that sycophancy has become the standard in the Kerala CPI(M). Since Vijayan has tight control over the party, no one brings it up in party fora. Even the party’s national leaders do not disparage Vijayan, the muscle man from Kannur.

“The response to the criticism of the party’s emerging hero worship culture is that leaders have been worshipped since AKG and EMS. They also remind me of the enormous fan base of Achuthanandan,” political analyst and author Azad Malayattil said.

“The ideology is no longer as important. The narrative that the party committees are constructing requires you to have faith in the leader. The leader is the answer to every issue. We now have the captain’s squad, just like Noah’s Ark; the story is to join and mark yourself secure. The party’s ideological base will be shattered, and there will be intellectual chaos as a result,” according to a Left scholar who wished to remain anonymous.